i cannot express how much my heart explodes with happiness when i work with other people in the arts. some things happened a couple of weeks ago, and i won't go into major detail, because much of it is not mine to share, but i will share some of my own personal thoughts and emotions with you.
on tuesday evening, curiouser theatre (which is now me, basically, but i'm still going to refer to curiouser in a group way, because as far as i'm concerned, it is an entity that exists for working with others and it serves as a vehicle for me as much as for any of my collaborators) hosted a workshop at the theatre school. one of my dear ones, loc lu, was training me in theatre for living techniques in order to prep for this coming year's tour of down the rabbit hole. i'll be facilitating workshops alongside the show with the focus of breaking down the stigma that surrounds mental health and illness. (if you are interested in hosting this and are anywhere within canada, give me a shout at curiousertheatre[at]gmail[dot]com. i'm looking at working mostly with high schools/youth groups/mental health organizations, but if you work with a group that you think would benefit from the work, i'm more than happy to chat and see what we can sort out.) the training was a bit of a crash course reminder for me in the specific techniques, and to place it on its feet and off the theory page.
so much of this work is body work, and you just can't get the full appreciation for what you're doing until you've got other bodies and energies in the room. like i said, i won't go into major detail about what happened, because those stories are not mine to share (the photos were taken with everyone's consent and also cleared with everyone individually before being shared here and elsewhere). but i am just so full of gratitude for the brave hearts who came out for the evening and opened their souls to play with us. my biggest worry as i go forward with this work (and with any work, really) is about whether i can offer and maintain a safe space for the people i work and play with. much of the time, i'm asking people to dig into and poke at areas of themselves that may be hidden, or sore, or dismissed by others, and that's just straight up terrifying. i know. it doesn't matter how much prep work you do, or how well-versed you are in the subject matter and vocabulary, it's still really scary. and i completely, 100%, all of my being get that. but i also think, and know from personal experience, that it can be really important work that helps the healing process, and so that's why i continue to put myself, and others, through it. i realize, though, that it is not up to me to determine how far someone falls with me. that is not my decision to make. i can only offer a space and energy that is safe and feels stable, so that when people do take the plunge, they trust that the rope they're holding onto is secure and will stop them before they splat. as a facilitator, it's terrifying, because you can never guarantee 100% that you have tied the knot tight enough. no one can guarantee that. if someone tells you that they can, they're lying. but that's what this training and prep is for, to learn how to tie sturdy knots. there are a whole lot of metaphors flying around this (very long) paragraph, but i hope you get what i mean.
part of providing a nice environment (and showing gratitude to the people who take time out of their day to come help out with this training) is providing delicious food! food is a wonderful bonding tool, and i think we did a pretty great job with this spread. my tutu lovely helped prep the food and made probably the best caesar salad i've ever eaten. i made a pot of lentil dahl, and we had corn tortilla chips and salsa, and sourdough from tall grass prairie, and juice. and we used mason jars for drinking vessels, and bowls from the theatre school. because really, being environmentally responsible is just as important as being socially responsible. they're kit and caboodle, if you will. plus now i've got a bunch of mason jars for the next workshop (and every workshop forever more), which will be sometime this fall before the tour starts. i'll need to test out the actual workshops on some friends and colleagues before i take it out into the public, just to get the kinks out.
i would like to end with just a huge thank you and shout out to nspirg, who provided curiouser with a research grant in order to do the training for this tour. it's such vital work (i'm saying this not because i think i'm a particularly life-changing person, but because i know any work that gets us talking openly about mental health in our society is necessary), and nspirg has made it possible for the company to do the training that makes the work more knowledgable and therefore more responsible. my mental health first aid training was funded by the same grant, and i'm able to pay the artists involved with this workshop a fair wage for their time, and provide a nutritious and delicious meal to our volunteer participants (plus offer a free workshop to members of the theatre community). so thanks, nspirg, for recognizing and supporting not just our project, but all the amazing projects and campaigns you do. and i absolutely cannot wait to get this baby back to halifax!